Network Bulletin No. 06-34
Date: July 28, 20006
Subject: Digital Long-Term Planning Group
Index Term: Report from the May 2006 meeting
The Digital Long-Term Planning Group held its seventh meeting at NSL May 23-24,
2006. A summary of the group's discussions and presentations is attached.
For further information contact:
Head, Network Services Section
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Digital Long-Term Planning Group Meeting
May 23-24, 2006
Members of the group who were present:
David Andrews, National Federation of the Blind
Meredith Beckhardt, library program administrator, Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library
Kim Charlson, librarian, Braille and Talking Book Library, Perkins School for the Blind
Paul Edwards, American Council of the Blind
Barbara Goral, retired Colorado regional librarian
Kathleen Kappel, librarian, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Carnegie Library
Karen Keninger, librarian, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Iowa Department
for the Blind
Donna Jones Morris, state librarian, Utah State Library Division
Karen Odean, librarian, Voices of Vision, Talking Book Center (Illinois)
Doris Ott, state librarian, North Dakota State Library
Irene Padilla, state librarian, Maryland State Department of Education
Peggy Rudd, director and state librarian, Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Richard Smith, librarian, Wolfner Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (Missouri)
Michael York, state librarian, New Hampshire State Library
Tuesday, May 23
Jeff Witt, of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB); Michael Katzmann, head, NLS
Engineering Section; and Michael Moodie, NLS deputy director, presented a review of player,
cartridge, and mailing-container prototypes. The presentation sparked several questions from the
group about the design and functionality of the player, cartridge, and mailing container as they
had progressed so far, but the group was generally pleased with the products demonstrated.
The DTB system prelaunch testing and full launch goals, plans, and assumptions were outlined
by a panel consisting of Bob Fistick, acting chief, Materials Development Division; Bob Axtell,
head, Bibliographic Control Section; Jim Herndon, head, Collection Development Section;
Michael Katzmann; and Bob Norton, head, Quality Assurance Section. Prelaunch testing will
consist of field testing approximately 2,000 players and associated cartridges for several months,
prior to the start of mass production.
The panel posed several questions regarding the number of libraries needed to take part in the
test, the number of titles needed to keep field testers engaged, and the number of testers and
players needed for prelaunch testing.
The group was comfortable with a subset of libraries conducting the field test, noting the
advantage of being able to prepare a smaller group of libraries more thoroughly. Concerns about
the possibility of unfairness might arise but could be allayed if the time between the field test and
the rollout is as short as planned. In selecting the libraries, NLS was also urged to ensure that all
local circulation system types were exercised and that all regions were represented during the
field test. Another suggestion was to select libraries with a high average circulation per reader as
a way of getting books to avid readers/testers.
Concerning training and support, some urged that consideration be given to preparing online
player documentation that reader advisors could consult when talking to patrons. One member
suggested distributing the scripts for the players' onboard help and information functions to
libraries. NLS proposed a guide on DVD that could demonstrate functions in a way that could
not be done online, although at least one librarian preferred the idea of streaming video. Another
objected to streaming video because some libraries have poor Internet connections.
There was widespread agreement that tester feedback should not be confined to bugs. A web site
the libraries could use to report bugs was recommended. Someone suggested that the field test
not be called a beta test, as that implied that things would have to be fixed. One attendee
suggested that the testers be clearly informed that this was not a usability test of what features
were useful, but of what did not work. Others indicated that if NLS wanted to do a survey of the
field testers the survey should be brief and structured.
Concerning selection of testers, librarians indicated they were already developing lists of
interested readers. While one librarian felt it would be important to have the sort of patron who
was unwilling to try the new technology represented, many thought it would be hard to recruit
this sort of patron. Others indicated that, based on experience with other tests, the testers would
not care what titles were available; they would be interested in trying out the features.
One librarian suggested having a player at every library.
Alice Baker, digital contracts administrator; Neil Bernstein, research and development officer;
and Michael Martys, automation officer, spoke about the audiobook and magazine download
Michael Martys sought input on web site design issues. The subsequent discussion focused on
privacy issues. Some librarians wanted the NLS web site to communicate download information
to local systems so they could retain records of patron downloads in their local systems. Others
argued that this was a violation of privacy and that in some states it would be against the law to
keep this information. While some librarians proposed making the retention of download
information voluntary on the part of the reader (through a checkbox on the web site) another
objected that it was a matter of state law and should not be up to the patron. Martys asked if the
privacy issue could be considered in more detail by some group. One librarian felt that the
DLTPG was the appropriate group and another recommended forming a subcommittee on the
Wednesday, May 24
Jerry Ducrest and other ManTech associates presented the draft report on the distribution system
design in some detail, including the data summarized in the many appendixes.
The group requested that the statistics in appendix 4 be broken down by separate subregional and
regional libraries. They also took the opportunity to recommend consideration of using larger
capacity cartridges to avoid the problems associated with multipart books, because they often are
not returned together.
Librarians commented that issues other than title age, such as number of copies available for loan
or bad subject assignment, could affect circulation. The amount of title circulation as forecast for
DTBs might be driven down by the availability of downloadable titles. Another librarian opined
that the ease of use might drive circulation up.
The group expressed concern about the possibility of copying DTBs to cassettes and the
requirements for librarians to keep cassette copies.
After lunch Jerry Ducrest, Bob Fistick, and John Bryant, head, Production Control Section,
discussed the transition from RC to DTBs, describing the projected change in numbers of titles
and copies in both media over the four-year transition period.
Jean Moss discussed the detailed preparations underway for the FY 2008 budget request, the first
of four requests for the funds needed to support a rapid transition from cassette to DTB.
At points throughout the morning and early afternoon presentations, the discussions strayed on to
the topic of regional libraries undertaking duplication of the retrospectively converted titles that
would not be immediately available on flash media. This led to questions about procuring blank
cartridges at regional libraries and the proposal to investigate using library consortia (such as
Solinet) for aggregating demand. One also asked if the multistate centers could supply these
titles on flash cartridges.
NLS stressed that it did not intend for regional libraries to become responsible for duplication on
demand. Others felt that, intention notwithstanding, regional libraries would feel pressure to
make copies available. At various times it was stated that NLS had to get the message out that the
20,000 DTB titles will not be immediately available on flash cartridges. (This misunderstanding
has been corrected.)
Steve Prine, head, Network Services Section, reviewed the playback distribution policy. The
group had a mixed reaction to the preference for centenarians. While most were favorably
disposed towards it, at least one objected to NLS setting any policy beyond the legal preference
for veterans. Others suggested that the justification for the preference policy should be left to
NLS to publicize, not the libraries, but later offered the suggestion that the policy should just be
carried out and not advertised.
The discussion moved to the topic of distribution of advanced and basic players and how to
determine who would get which player. At issue was the difficulty of communicating to patrons
the differences between the two in a meaningful way. There was a suggestion that NLS develop
a quick two-sentence description of each player that reader advisors could use to ascertain who
got which machine. One librarian suggested starting all readers with the basic player. Another
attendee suggested building and distributing only basic machines for the first year but the group
And finally there was a question about libraries' ability to purchase their own players. Richard
Smith related that his state legislative director had requested money for this purpose and he asked
if a contract rider could be developed. This is to be determined at a later date.
Michael Katzmann reported on NLS's decision not to use radio frequency identification devices
(RFIDs) in the cartridges or players, based on the recommendations from a contractor that had
studied the issue. RFID refers to technology that uses devices attached to objects that transmit
data to a receiver, eliminating the need to use optical scanners such as barcode readers to identify
the objects. The discussion was brief and the group seemed to agree that they were not feasible
for use in their libraries at this time.
The discussion of the distribution system design resumed at the end of the afternoon with
considerations and recommendations of random shelving options and continuous weeding.
Richard Smith favored recycling titles as soon as their immediate turnaround stopped and
thought ManTech should be tasked with investigating alternatives to provide titles that were
requested after being recycled. The group generally embraced the idea of continuous weeding as
opposed to periodic weeding.
The group was asked if agreement was possible on what should remain in the collection system-
wide. The numbers suggested that, except for perennially popular books, after six to eight years
titles should be removed from local collections and sent to the duplication-on-demand center.
Some suggested that certain titles should be designated as duplicate-on-demand from day one.
Some also suggested that libraries would be tempted to remove copies as soon as possible,
although the duplication-on-demand model breaks down if it is used for popular titles.